“Sow your seed in the morning and do not let your hand rest until the evening; for you do not know which will have success, whether this one or that one, or whether they will both do well.” Ecclesiastes 11:6
I saw a tweet some time ago where a young lady was looking to start off her writing career. She wanted an agent and was pleading with people in her circle to help her retweet her request until she got one. According to her tweet, she believed that would be the best way to kick start her writing career. She got 10 retweets but unfortunately no agent.
Many people wait to take that big leap in their career or business until they find someone more experienced to help them. I think that is a mistake. We have to be independent and proactive in looking for new opportunities and we can’t wait for others to help us. If you’re looking to build a creative writing career, here are 10 things I think you should do to get started.
Read from other writers
The first step to take if you want to be a great writer is to read. Read a wide variety of books from classics to contemporary, fantasy to horror, romance to crime. Make it your goal to read at least one book every month.
Better if you can read a book a week. Read as many short stories as you can find. Read until you find that genre that you get a lot of joy reading and you believe you’d be interested in exploring.
Concentrate on your genre of choice
Find as many authors as possible who have published works in this genre. Pay attention to their writing style: how they use words, how they tell their story and the unique techniques they use in telling their stories.
There is always something to learn or borrow from other writers as you develop your own unique style.
The use of social media in itself lends itself to writing. One of the best ways to be a writer is to write something every day. Your writing doesn’t have to be fantastic, it just has to be clear and readable.
Aim to create suspense in your writing. Always ask yourself, can someone tell where this story will end from reading the first paragraph?
Keep writing as part of your hustle
From the outset, you will probably not make any money from writing. All across the globe creators are struggling to make ends meet. Even in Los Angeles which may seem like the centre of the creative universe, Jules Barusch says, “I’m not going to say it’s always easy. I am currently an actor, writer, and movie producer living in Los Angeles—but I also have to copy write and work in a hotel to make the ends meet“.
It may be hard to accept but writing will probably have to take second place in your work life but you have to fit writing into your lifestyle. You may decide to write for 30 minutes every day after work or to have a 2,000-word short story available to share every weekend. Whatever you decide, ensure it is a consistent practice.
Share your writing
Don’t be too proud to beg. Send private messages to your friends and ask them to help you share your work. While you’re sharing, also ask them to provide you with feedback about your writing so you can better understand what your audience is looking for.
Offer your writing service for free
Yes, I am fully aware of the great “exposure cannot pay your bills debate” but exposure can pay your bills…eventually. Remember that as a writer you are building a portfolio.
You don’t want that portfolio to be empty when someone who needs your services comes calling. And who says that someone is not among the readers of that journal you sent your short story to?
Enter writing competitions
You may not win but your writing will improve. Entering a competition means that you will ask more people to read what you have written and ask for their feedback. It also means that you may get the attention of judges who already work in the industry.
Even if you do not win, someone may be impressed by your writing style and can follow up for further opportunities.
Pray that the stars align in your favour. A good friend once told me that heroes are made or destroyed every decade. I dare say that each new day is that start of a new decade. How do you know that today isn’t your day? Pray it is. Hope it is. Believe it is.
Write some more
Experiment with all types of writing. Try your hands on short stories, flash fictions, novellas and even a novel. Borrow ideas from different genres. Do not be afraid to push your creative limits.
Remember, there are really no new stories there are just new ways to tell old stories. What would a Cinderella story look like if it was sci-fi? What if we created a horror Rapunzel? Push your mind to the edge.
Keep on writing
No matter what happens do not give up on your writing. Many think that if they are not discovered in the first few years of writing, then they should go do something else. But a majority of the well-known creative writers wrote for several years before their big break.
Take for instance Paulo Coelho, author of one of the most profound books I have read, “The Alchemist“. He started writing in 1982 but it was not until 1994 that this book gained traction and went on became a best seller.
The first publishers in 1988 only produced 900 copies and refused to reprint and more than 20 years later the book is an international bestseller. The Alchemist has become one of the best-selling books in history, selling more than 65 million copies, and even set the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.
So never give up in pursuit of your dreams.
One thought on “How to build a creative writing career”
Thank you so much for this article. It’s very detailed and helpful. I started off writing posts on my Facebook page, and from there I started a blog to write short stories, essays and poems. I also enter writing competitions, and I am always reading. I hope to make more progress as I put in more effort.
You can read my work on http://www.classicallyivy.com.